(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) has once again demonstrated its unwavering commitment to nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation, as it was recognized as a finalist at the prestigious GEN Compass Awards 2023. This acknowledgement, bestowed by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), underscores ICTA’s pivotal role in promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology-driven growth in Sri Lanka.
The GEN Compass Awards are a global celebration of excellence in various aspects of entrepreneurship, including policymaking, investor support programs, and research. This recognition reflects ICTA’s dedication to empowering entrepreneurs and fostering innovation in the country.
ICTA’s dedication to the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem was particularly evident during the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) held in Sri Lanka in 2022. In collaboration with numerous organizations across Sri Lanka, ICTA played a leading role in spearheading GEW activities aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and nurturing startup ecosystems. The collective effort organized diverse activities under the GEW banner, including educational talks and hands-on workshops tailored to high school students, startup founders, potential investors, and SMEs. These initiatives not only supported existing innovators across the nation but also eliminated barriers to entry, thus opening doors to entrepreneurship for aspiring individuals.
Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is a dedicated celebration of visionary entrepreneurs who dare to dream big and bring their startup ideas to life. It touches the lives of diverse individuals from all backgrounds and age groups, providing a platform through local, national, and global events. During one week each November, collaborators from around the world come together to organize events and competitions that both honor and empower local entrepreneurs. Notably, ICTA has been placed as the host for three years running, showcasing its unwavering commitment to nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation in Sri Lanka. For GEW 2022, working alongside its partners, ICTA curated a series of activities under the theme ‘Celebrating Diversity in Entrepreneurship.’ These activities included engaging dialogues with experienced entrepreneurs and sector experts, providing invaluable insights into breaking barriers to entrepreneurship.
What set GEW Sri Lanka 2022 apart is its reach beyond the confines of urban centers like Colombo. Participating organizations organized events across the island, covering an array of topics falling under four main themes: ecosystems, education, inclusion, and policy. For instance, ICTA collaborated with the Inland Revenue Department to host a tax awareness session for startup founders and MSMEs, followed by a hands-on workshop on ‘How to start and register a company in Sri Lanka’ conducted by the Department of Registrar of Companies and Trade Disruptions.
Moreover, the Uva Startup Hub, located in Badulla, organized a hybrid TED talk featuring local startups and entrepreneurs, fostering a space for sharing experiences and mutual learning. Dialog Ideamart and the UNDP held events centered on social entrepreneurship throughout the island, with the UNDP HackaDev program, promoting technopreneurship for social change. This initiative saw the participation of over 150 students from various universities. Microsoft played its part by featuring successful tech entrepreneurs in its ecosystem, while the Computer Society of Sri Lanka organized a virtual summit to showcase the potential of Sri Lanka’s ICT sector to investors.
In retrospect, GEW Sri Lanka 2022 stands as an extraordinary triumph, a testament to the unwavering dedication and commitment to championing startups and advancing entrepreneurship across our vibrant island. The numbers alone speak volumes: in 2022, our collaborative efforts resulted in a staggering 111 activities within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, drawing in more than 3,000 participants from twelve distinct regions, reflecting the event’s far-reaching influence and resonance. Moreover, we proudly engaged with more than 60 esteemed ecosystem partners from 11 countries whose pivotal roles catapulted GEW 2022 into a resounding and historic achievement. These events not only celebrated entrepreneurship but also left an indelible mark on our ecosystem, fostering growth, innovation, and collaboration. From inspiring young minds to connecting seasoned entrepreneurs, the activities held during the week empowered a diverse spectrum of individuals, including students, budding entrepreneurs, and established MSMEs. The key takeaways from this monumental event are the lessons learned, experiences shared, and best practices exchanged, reinforcing our unwavering commitment to bolstering entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka.
As GEW 2023 approaches this November, we are thrilled to invite you to stay tuned for yet another dynamic celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation, with ICTA leading the way. As we reflect on this remarkable success, we also look ahead with great enthusiasm to future editions of GEW, where we aim to build on this transformative legacy, continuing to pave the way for a more vibrant and supportive Sri Lankan startup ecosystem.